Nine hundred new hospital beds will be delivered across the NHS as part of £250 million government funding to help treat patients more quickly this winter, the UK government has announced.
The funding has been awarded to NHS trusts to relieve pressures and help cut waiting lists, one of the government’s top five priorities.
A total of 30 NHS organisations across England will benefit from the investment in urgent and emergency care services.
This includes developing or expanding urgent treatment centres and same-day emergency care services which will help patients to be seen more quickly, without being admitted to hospital.
NHS England expects that the majority of schemes will be completed by January 2024 to help tackle winter pressures.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of my top five priorities, so this year the government has started planning for winter earlier than ever before and the public can be reassured we are backing the NHS with the resources it needs.
“These 900 new beds will mean more people can be treated quickly, speeding up flow through hospitals and reducing frustratingly long waits for treatment.”
The investment is part of the NHS urgent and emergency care recovery plan, published in January 2023, which set out plans to provide over 5,000 additional permanent, fully staffed hospital beds in total, with the NHS on track to deliver this by winter.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and so it is right that we put robust plans in place as early as possible to boost capacity and help frontline staff to prepare for additional pressure.
“Our winter plans, which build on the progress already made on our urgent and emergency care recovery plan, aim to reduce waiting times for patients and to transform services with an expansion of same day care and virtual wards, helping patients to be cared for in their own home where possible.”
In total, the schemes will create 900 beds, including over 60 intermediate care beds and improving assessment spaces and cubicles in A&E.
Several trusts will develop or expand urgent treatment centres to treat patients more quickly in an effort to reduce waiting times, including Hull Royal Infirmary, James Cook University Hospital, Airedale General Hospital and Worthing Hospital.
Labour critics have labelled today’s announcement a ‘stickling plaster’ and called on the Prime Minister to “apologise for his party’s vandalism of the NHS”.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, said: “Conservative mismanagement of the NHS has left us with huge backlogs, unacceptable waiting times, and an annual winter crisis.
“Now Rishi Sunak is offering a sticking plaster, which comes nowhere near the 12,000 beds the Conservatives have cut over the last 13 years.
“Rishi Sunak should apologise for his party’s vandalism of the NHS. Patients deserve better.”
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